1 Peter 2:9-10
But you are a chosen generation, a royal priesthood, an holy nation, a peculiar people…
I. It is amongst the most common, and certainly not the least dangerous, of THE MISTAKES OF THE PRESENT DAY TO IDENTIFY THE CHURCH WITH THE CLERGY, AS THOUGH THE LAITY WERE NOT TO THE FULL ONE OF ITS CONSTITUENT PARTS. I am indeed a minister of the Church, but not on that account more a member of the Church than any of those amongst whom I officiate. We are not speaking of what that community may be by practice, but only of what it is by profession; and of what it would be if it acted up to the obligations taken on itself. Let a parish of nominal Christians be converted into a parish of real Christians, so that there should not be one within its circuit who did not adorn the doctrine of the gospel; and what should we have but a parish of priests to the living God? We call it a parish of priests, because we can feel that it would be as a kind of little sanctuary in the midst of country or city, which might elsewhere be deformed by great ignorance and profligacy. There would be no trenching upon functions which belong exclusively to men who have been ordained to the service of the temple; but, nevertheless, there would be that thorough exhibition of Christianity, which is amongst the most powerful of preaching, and that noble presentation of every energy to God, which is far above the costliest of sacrifices and burnt offerings, And you will easily see that, in passing from a parish to a nation, we introduce no change into our argument! We only enlarge its application. We cannot tell you what a spectacle it would be in the midst of the earth, if any one people as a body acted on the principles of Christianity; but we are sure that no better title than that of our text could be given to such a people. Neither is it only through the example they would set, and the exhibition they would furnish of the beneficial power of Christianity, that the inhabitants of this country would be as the priests of the Most High, You cannot doubt that such a nation would be, in the largest sense, a missionary nation, Conscious of the inestimable blessing which Christianity had proved to its own families, this people would not send forth a single ship on any enterprise of commerce, without making it also a vehicle for transmitting the principles of religion.
II. But consider next: CERTAIN OF THE CONSEQUENCES WHICH WOULD FOLLOW, IF THE PRIESTLY CHARACTER WERE UNIVERSALLY RECOGNISED. We begin with observing that the members of the church watch its ministers with singular jealousy, and that faults which would be comparatively overlooked if committed by a merchant or a lawyer, are held up to utter execration when they can be fastened on a clergyman. We might press them home with the question, are not ye priests? You may be forgetful, you may be ignorant of your high calling; but, nevertheless, you belong incontrovertibly to "a royal priesthood"; and if there be avarice amongst you, it is the avarice of a priest; if there be pride amongst you, it is the pride of a priest; if there be sensuality amongst you, it is the sensuality of a priest. We are quite persuaded that men vastly underrate, even where they do not wholly overlook, the injury which the vices of any private individual work to the cause of God and religion.
III. If you were to regard yourselves as the priests of God, YOU COULD NOT BE INDOLENT WITH RESPECT TO ANY ENTERPRISE OF CHRISTIAN PHILANTHROPY. You have been appointed to the priesthood that you may "show forth the praises of Him who hath called you out of darkness into His marvellous light." If ye be priests of Christianity, for what end can you have been consecrated, if not that you may disseminate the religion which you have embraced as the true?
(H. Melvill, B. D.)
Parallel VersesKJV: But ye are a chosen generation, a royal priesthood, an holy nation, a peculiar people; that ye should shew forth the praises of him who hath called you out of darkness into his marvellous light:
WEB: But you are a chosen race, a royal priesthood, a holy nation, a people for God's own possession, that you may proclaim the excellence of him who called you out of darkness into his marvelous light: